It’s a natural evolutionary process—when an event gets big enough, the opening day becomes crowded. So those that don’t like the crowds start coming earlier—like a day earlier. Then the day earlier gets crowded… so they come a day before that… and so on, and so on.
AirVenture officially begins on Monday, but it has been a well known fact that all true believers (especially homebuilders) try to arrive the weekend before, which has made for more and more crowds on the arrival corridor every year. So Friday began to be the secret way in. This year, we had almost 50 airplanes in Homebuilt Camping on Thursday night, which means things are beginning to shift a day earlier. Today (Friday) the arrivals are a steady stream of inbounds making it seem like Saturdays of old, so Friday is the new Saturday.
The good news is that the weather is great, the ground firm, and the teams are in place to direct and park everyone—so starting a day earlier is no problem. Food still isn’t widely available on site, however, so if you’re coming early, be prepared to walk offsite or live off of what you bring in the plane. And for those worried about having a place to park, it is the stated goal of the EAA to never turn away a show plane—and all homebuilts are show planes. So if you start reading that parking is full, remember that the promise is that if you’re flying a homebuilt, they will find you a place.
This could be the year when we find out if that remains true!